How To’s: First Offender

First Offender

How to Understand the First Offender Act

If you are sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act and successfully complete your sentence, you will not have a conviction and the charge will be sealed from your official criminal history.

ELIGIBILITY:

  1. You have never been convicted of a felony (in any state);
  2. You have never been sentenced as a First Offender;
  3. Your charge is not Driving under the Influence (DUI);
  4. Your charge is not a serious crime committed against a law enforcement officer engaged in his duties;
  5. Your charge is not a serious violent felony (O.C.G.A. §17-10-6.1);
  6. Your charge is not a serious sexual offense (O.C.G.A. §17-10-6.2);
  7. Your charge is not related to child pornography (O.C.G.A. §16-12-100.2); and
  8. Your charge is not related to electronic sexual exploitation of a minor, computer pornography (O.C.G.A. §§ 16-12-100, et. seq)

PROCESS:

  1. You or your attorney must ask the judge to sentence you under the First Offender Act before you are sentenced.
  2. The judge decides whether to sentence you as a First Offender, with input from your attorney and the prosecutor. (NOTE: If the judge denies the request, the decision cannot be appealed.)
  3. If the judge decides to treat you as a First Offender, you will be sentenced. During your sentence, your official criminal history report will say “First Offender Act” as the result of the case.
  4. If you violate the terms of your sentence, including committing another crime, and the judge revokes your First Offender status, you will be convicted and could be sentenced to the maximum punishment for the offense(s).
  5. If you successfully complete your probation, the probation officer will request an Order of Discharge from the judge.
  6. The judge will issue the order, and it will be filed with the clerk of court (be sure to keep a copy).
  7. The Clerk of Court will enter the Order of Discharge onto your official Georgia criminal history record and the record of the case will be sealed from your GCIC criminal history record for most employers.
  8. Obtain a copy of your GCIC criminal history record to make sure the First Offender case no longer appears on your report. (NOTE: Law enforcement and certain employers can still see the charge.)

How to Seal My Discharged First Offender Case on My GCIC Criminal History Record

While you are under sentence, your First Offender case will show up on your official criminal history report. If your First Offender status was revoked and you were convicted, the conviction will appear permanently on your record. If you successfully completed your First Offender sentence and the arrest and charges still appear on your official report, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Clerk of Court in the county where you were sentenced and ask for a copy of the final disposition and Order of Discharge in your case.
  2. If an Order of Discharge is in the file, ask the clerk to enter it on your official criminal history report kept by GCIC.
  3. If an Order of Discharge is not in the file, contact your probation officer and ask him/her to request the order.
  4. If your case was resolved a long time ago and/or you can’t contact your probation officer, ask to speak to the supervisor of your probation office.
  5. The probation office should complete the order and send it to the judge, and it will then be filed at the clerk of court and entered into GCIC.
  6. If the clerk does not enter your Order of Discharge, you can mail it, along with a certified copy of the disposition in your case, to GCIC at 3121 Panthersville Road in Decatur so that the record can be corrected. Be sure to include your date of birth on the request to GCIC so that they can identify the appropriate record.

NOTE: If you are convicted of a crime while you are under sentence for a First Offender case, GCIC is required by law to enter a revocation on your criminal history. This does not necessarily mean you were actually revoked. Only a judge may officially revoke your First Offender status. Once an Order of Discharge is entered, GCIC will correct the record.